Why do we “launch” programs?


Why do we “launch” programs?

In: Technology

It’s a metaphorical usage of a word taken from militarily language.

You “launch” a program like you would launch a campaign, an attack, a missile, a boat, or a spear: that is to say, you set something in motion, and then it runs its course.

The development of early computer technology in the mid-20th Century was deeply tied to the military during WWII and the Cold War.

Launch means execute in the context of your question.
But it could also mean release.

As for execution it comes from the instructions you write so the hardware will do certain things (read or write memory, do an operation, etc…). There are many instructions and they are organized in programs.

But launching a program per se has no direct relation with the actual software or hardware and is more of an user friendly term and marketed thing in a “launch bar’ for example.

For the majority of Computing history the term was “execute” or “run”.

Technically neither of these are accurate any more, since modern “programs” are not just blocks of machine code, and often contain extra data and resources processed by the OS. Starting them is much more complex than just loading and branching into the machine code.

“Launch” seems to have been coined to represent this more complex process, although I’m not sure by whom.